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MUSIC OF SAVAGE NATIONS.             241
Their canoe song is very animating, and is often accompanied by the primitive nose flute mentioned above.
The words (improvised) are such as "pull away! pull away! pull away." "Dig into the water." "Break your backs," etc., and are shouted with stentorian lungs, but not unmusi­cally.
But their greatest song and dance is the war-dance. In this they far excel all other savage tribes the world over. Their movements although extremely violent, are made with a precision and unity, to which all other races are strangers. A description of this unique performance speaks of it as follows.
"They begin by smearing the whole of their clothing and painting their faces with scarlet ochre, so as to make themselves as hideous as possible. "When they assemble for the dance they arrange themselves in lines usually three deep, and excite their naturally passionate dispositions to the highest pitch by contorting their faces, and thrusting out their tongues as an act of defiance, interspersing these gestures with shouts, yells and challenges to the enemy. The dance itself begins with stamping the feet in perfect time with each other, the vigor of the stamp increasing continu­ally, and the excitement increasing in similar proportion. Suddenly with a yell, the whole body of men leap sideways into the air, as if actuated by one spirit, and as they touch the ground, come down on it with a mighty stamp that makes the 16

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III